Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Leonard Hodgson (The Doctrine of the Trinity, page 217) cites the late Professor J.A. Smith who read a paper to the Oxford Philological Society about 76 years ago. In this paper (which unfortunately was not published by the 1940s)--Smith contended that the word LOGOS was never employed by the ancient Greeks to delineate "the active reasoning faculty in man" or "a cognate principle in the universe" (See The Doctrine of the Trinity. New York: Scribner's, 1944).

To the contrary, Smith maintains, TO LOGISTIKON was used to denote the reasoning faculty of humans.

Evidently a number of classical and philological scholars were present at Smith's reading of the paper on the LOGOS. Hodgson says that he felt "they regarded the thesis favorably" (218); therefore, Hodgson considers the question about the semantic domain of the word LOGOS to be an open one.

There is also a helpful book by Joel Wilcox called The Origins of Epistemology in Early Greek Thought: A Study of Psyche and Logos in Heraclitus. I'm also referencing this book because Smith even claimed that Heraclitus did not use LOGOS to describe "a cognate principle in the universe" as is commonly asserted. (one author has said that the LOGOS in Heraclitus refers to "an immutable law of necessity," whereas another avers that the Heraclitean LOGOS is "the omnipotent wisdom that steers all things.")

Concerning Philo's usage, Smith claims that "such men as Philo" employed LOGOS "to translate the Hebrew MEMRAH, and theologians in their ignorance had read back the later meaning, with which they were familiar, into earlier writings where it was out of place" (Hodgson 217).

So Smith would argue that Philo and the ANF (as well as modern theologians) utilized LOGOS in a way not consonant with its intended use in the Greek tradition. He also contends that the Heraclitean fragment TOU LOGOU TOUD' EONTOS AIEI ASUNETOI GINONTAI ANQRWPOI "has nothing to do with the eternity of a supernatural being" (Hodgson 217).

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